Workplace values matter more than career progression to young dads

With recent research showing that over half of young dads (58 percent) are more actively involved in day to day parenting than ever before, it is increasingly important that employers put health and wellbeing and other workplace values at the heart of their offer to employees. In particular, they should be able to offer flexible working options in order to retain their best staff. Our research looking at the Millennial Dad at Work also highlighted starkly that some business sectors are more accommodating than others when it comes to flexible working. Perhaps surprisingly, the construction industry came out of the research very well with 48 percent requesting a change in working hours since becoming a father of which 78 percent of those were successful. The retail sector and the pharmaceutical industry also did well.

Those sectors languishing at the bottom of the league tables included the non-profit sector where only 17 percent of the dads we interviewed had been successful in achieving a requested change in working hours. Alongside them was the wholesale sector where 24 percent of the dads we interviewed in the wholesale sector had requested a change in working hours, but only 39 percent were successful and the advertising sector where of the 28 percent of those who worked in advertising, only 33 percent of those dads had been successful in requesting a change in working hours.

It is good to see that in some business sectors, the connection has been made between workplace values, wellbeing, achieving a healthy work/life balance and staff retention. With Aviva and Deloitte now offering longer paternity leave arrangements  than the statutory two weeks available by law, we are starting to see progressive change of paternity leave across more large organisations. They see the value in retaining their best staff and are investing in them for the future. I would like to see more being done and for a change in the law so that the current paternity arrangements are increased to four weeks at the minimum. The top employers are clearly recognising the need for change, and we want to help drive that change even more quickly across all businesses, whatever their size.


Do your research

As a job applicant, it clearly pays to do your research when looking for a new role. Those companies that are forward thinking and understand the value of employee wellbeing and workplace values are more likely to attract the better candidates. For working fathers, asking questions like – do the company offer flexible working or work from home options will make the difference between them applying or not applying. For the younger generation, it is no longer all about a defined career path to the top, or even about money. Being able to work flexibly is a key principle for many employees today who really do want a proper work life balance.

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We know that one third of new dads have already changed jobs since becoming a father with another third actively looking to change. Think about that for a second – two thirds of new fathers in your workplace have either left or are actively looking – primarily because of their workplace flexibility needs. At a time where the greatest management practices are based on employee trust and value, what employers need to be concerned about is the rate at which dads are voting with their feet.

This is not just about paying lip service to change either – it is also about a company’s mindset and their vision and values. 39 percent of working dads that we interviewed for the research, regularly experienced “dad guilt” and tension from colleagues. When we asked dads about this tension, the main issues that they experienced ranged from comments around dads ‘leaving on time’ through to difficulties booking holidays or colleagues believing’ that dads not ‘in the office’ were simply taking ‘time off.’  This is on top of the issues that 45 percent of working dads experienced with employers when trying to balance work and family life. These findings highlight the fact that company values need to permeate across all staff from the top to the bottom of the business.

As an organisation focused on fatherhood, we are campaigning for action. Every business now has the power to challenge and shift how the modern era of work complements how modern day dads want to parent. It is clear that some business sectors are better than others. Some sectors need to make an effort to understand what employees want and offer better paternity leave and flexible working options to their staff. Those sectors who are currently found wanting need to up their game to keep up with the changing times if they want to retain their best staff.